Mayor Wu appoints new Boston Civic Design Commission leadership and commissioners
Feb 23, 2023
Mayor Michelle Wu today announced new appointments and leadership to the Boston Civic Design Commission (BCDC) to bring diverse new voices and perspectives to shape design outcomes in the City. These appointments are another step toward the Mayor’s vision of ensuring that design and development resources are focused on resilience, affordability, and equity. The changes to the Commission will ensure that the BCDC’s feedback during its review of projects continues to represent the best and most current design thinking in our city.
“I’m grateful to this group of leaders for agreeing to serve on the Civic Design Commission,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “It’s critical that the Commission represent new and leading voices in the design and architecture spaces. These new members will provide diverse perspectives that will help shape Boston’s growth in a way that will ensure both residents and visitors experience Boston as a City for everyone.”
The individuals announced today represent expertise in national resilience, as well as experts in the local public realm and the arts, which plays an important role in maintaining cultural identities across our neighborhoods. BCDC review is also a requirement of the Article 80 process, which is currently being revised to make the process more predictable and streamlined. The BCDC will continue to play an advisory role to the Urban Design and Planning staff of the Boston Planning & Development Agency, who will eventually transition to a new City Planning and Design Department.
The changes announced today include appointing Mimi Love as Chair and Linda Eastley as Vice Chair. Three Commissioners will cycle off the Commission, and three new commissioners will join ten existing commissioners who will continue to serve. New appointments include Laura Solano, Shauna Gillies Smith, and Catherine Morris. Brief biographies for the new leadership and new commissioners can be found below.
Mimi Love is being appointed as Chair of the BCDC. She has served as a Commissioner since 2020. She is currently a Principal at Utile Architecture & Planning, with expertise ranging from complicated renovation projects to campus master plans. While her experience is broad, she has a particular interest in adaptive reuse projects that have complicated programmatic requirements. She is the principal-in-charge for The Possible Project’s Innovation Center in Boston. She led the Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion on the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the Richard Ortner Studio Building for Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Prior to joining Utile, Love was an Associate at Machado Silvetti in Boston. Love co-authored Color Space Style, a reference book on interior design for Rockport Publications.
Linda Eastley is being appointed as Vice Chair of the BCDC. She has served as a Commissioner since 2009. Eastley is a Founding Principal and Managing Partner at Eastley + Partners, LLC, with 25 years of experience in campus planning and large-scale urban design. Eastley’s project experience has included strategies for university systems, waterfront and urban district planning, complex development programming, and site analysis. She is active in the American Planning Association, the Society for College and University Planning, the Urban Land Institute, and the Women's Principal Group of the Boston Society of Architects. Eastley graduated from Cornell University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Laura Solano, FASLA, is joining the BCDC as a commissioner. She is a registered Landscape Architect and Partner at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (MVVA). Solano’s expertise in innovative technology and design is nationally recognized and her work has been essential for advancing MVVA’s design excellence alongside sustainable and resilient performance. For 25 years she taught at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and was appointed the Trott Distinguished Visiting Professor at The Ohio State University, her alma mater. Laura lectures nationwide at universities and professional associations. Her writings have been widely published and she contributed to the soil section of the ASLA SITES initiative. She was on the editorial board of Architecture Boston magazine and an executive board member for the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF). Since 2016 she has been a Lead Facilitator for LAF’s Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership. In 2022 she received the Design Medal from the ASLA.
Shauna Gillies-Smith is joining the BCDC as a commissioner. She is the founding principal of GROUND and oversees the design direction of all the firm’s projects. Active in both professional and academic spheres, Gillies-Smith has taught landscape architecture design studios and technical courses at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, RISD, UBC, RPI, and Tulane. Currently, Gillies-Smith is a Trustee of the Boston Architectural College and sits on the Advisory Board of the Design Industry Group of Massachusetts. She has held the roles of Co-chair of the Urban Design Committee at the Boston Society for Architecture (BSA), both Contributing Editor and Editorial Board Member of Architecture Boston Magazine and is the former Affiliate Director on the BSA Board. Her body of work balances innovative design, elegant detailing, and clever problem-solving to create evocative and welcoming urban spaces. Through her unique command of design and cross-disciplinary advocacy, Gillies-Smith has become a recognized national voice in landscape architecture.
Catherine T. Morris is joining the BCDC as a commissioner. She is the Director of Arts and Culture at the Boston Foundation and Executive Director of Boston Art & Music Soul (BAMS) Fest. Morris has spent her career supporting BIPOC artists by producing shows, creating platforms as well as mobilizing and engaging local audiences to experience the arts from a Black perspective. She is also the former Director of Public Programs at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where she diversified programming, led teams, and increased access and visibility for local and national BIPOC artists, collaborators, entertainers and audiences. Catherine has deep roots in Boston, with more than 15 years of special event planning and community engagement.
The three new appointees and two existing commissioners who will take over leadership positions will be instated for the April BCDC monthly meeting. The April BCDC meeting will be the first monthly meeting for the new group of commissioners and leaders announced today. On February 13, the BPDA hosted a celebration to acknowledge the service and leadership of the three outgoing commissioners and thanked them for their meaningful contribution to design excellence in Boston.